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Imagining Nature Blake's Environmental Poetics by Dr. Kevin Hutchings

Imagining Nature Blake's Environmental Poetics


Imagining Nature Blake's Environmental Poetics by Dr. Kevin Hutchings

By focusing on Blake's concern for the relationship between nature and ideology (including the politics of class, gender, and religion) Hutchings avoids the sentimentalism and misanthropic pitfalls all too often associated with environmental commentary. He articulates a distinctively Blakean perspective on current debates in literary theory and eco-criticism and argues that while Blake's peculiar humanism and profound emphasis upon spiritual concerns have led the majority of his readers to regard his work as patently anti-natural, such a view distorts the central political and aesthetic concerns of Blake's corpus. By showing that Blake's apparent hostility toward the natural world is actually a key aspect of his famous critique of institutionalized authority, Hutchings presents Blake's work as an example of green Romanticism in its most sophisticated and socially responsive form.


This is an outstanding, provocative, paradigm-shifting book. It questions the view of Northrop Frye, which has generally prevailed in Blake studies for the last half century, that Blake regarded Nature as miserably cruel, wasteful, purposeless, chaotic and half dead. It proposes instead that Blake envisioned an environmental poetics that celebrates natural cycles, in which every thing that lives is holy. This argument is advanced with commendable clarity, compelling evidence, and dialectical vigor. This is one of those rare and valuable books that leads its readers to question the established tenets of criticism without seeking to score debater's points or resorting to crude iconoclasm. James McKusick, Department of English, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

5th May 2003


Dr. Kevin Hutchings

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McGill-Queen's University Press


272 pages


Literary studies: poetry & poets
Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800



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